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Plant Physiol Biochem. 2012 Sep;58:66-82. doi: 10.1016/j.plaphy.2012.06.010. Epub 2012 Jun 17.

Violaxanthin de-epoxidase is rate-limiting for non-photochemical quenching under subsaturating light or during chilling in Arabidopsis.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0129, USA.


In response to conditions of excess light energy, plants induce non-photochemical quenching (NPQ) as a protective mechanism to prevent over reduction of photosystem II and the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). The xanthophyll cycle, which contributes significantly to reversible NPQ to thermally dissipate excess absorbed light energy, involves de-epoxidation of violaxanthin and antheraxanthin to zeaxanthin in response to excess light energy. The activation of violaxanthin de-epoxidase (VDE), which catalyzes the de-epoxidation reaction, requires the generation of a light-induced, transthylakoid pH gradient. In this work, we overexpressed or repressed the expression of VDE in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) to examine whether VDE is rate-limiting for the induction of NPQ. Increasing VDE expression increased the de-epoxidation state of xanthophyll pigments, the rate of NPQ induction, and the level of NPQ achieved under subsaturating light. In saturating light, however, overexpression of VDE did not increase the xanthophyll pigment de-epoxidation state, the level of NPQ achieved following its initial induction, or substantially improve tolerance to high light. Only under chilling, which reduces VDE activity, did an increase in VDE expression provide slightly greater phototolerance. Repression of VDE expression impaired violaxanthin de-epoxidation, reduced the generation of NPQ, and lowered the level of NPQ achieved while increasing photosensitivity. These results demonstrate that the endogenous level of VDE is rate-limiting for NPQ in Arabidopsis under subsaturating but not saturating light and can become rate-limiting under chilling conditions. These results also show that increasing VDE expression confers greater phototolerance mainly under conditions which limit endogenous VDE activity.

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